Intimate partner violence (IPV), defined as actual or threatened physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse by current or former partners, is currently a public health concern globally. According to World Health Organization, the global prevalence of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence women was 30 %  and the prevalence is very high in countries from sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia . Intimate partner violence is known to be associated with both short and long term psychological and mental health problems including depression, anxiety, tendencies towards addiction and suicidal ideation [3–5]. In Ghana, the prevalence of IPV has been reported to be low-fewer than 4 % of women report ever experiencing any victimization . Reasons attributed to the low reported cases of such violence was that such cases of IPV may be considered less appropriate, not worthy of people’s attention and sometimes dependent on the nature of physical violence their husbands use.
Gender equity is an important step in women empowerment. In many societies, norms and cultural practices justify that men have the right to use force against women [7, 8]. These practices have serious consequences for the physical, psychological, and reproductive and sexual health of women [9, 10]. Approval of partner violence and its psychosocial effects have been documented [11, 12]. Most of these studies showed that the rate of justification and approval of domestic physical violence against wives in many countries are quite high and can vary by the reason for abuse (e.g. infidelity, neglect of child). Furthermore, these studies found that women tended to approve of IPV (including physical violence) at a greater rate than men, and factors reflecting lower socio-economic status is associated with typically higher acceptance of IPV .
One of the reasons for the acceptance of violence against women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia countries has been attributed to patriarchy [13, 14]. Patriarchy reflects social attitudes and norms around the role of women in relation to men as a source of partner violence . The power of male superiority as reflected in studies showed that large percentages of both men and women believe that male violence against women are acceptable under different circumstances [7, 8, 15]. This ideology thus plays an important role acceptance and or approval of IPV towards women, where the behaviours of women are construed to be the triggers of violence by the partners , and women generally accepts this power exertion on them .
There is evidence of the existence of patriarchy in Ghana [17, 18], as men are considered wise, strong and placed in positions of authority compared to women. Male dominance has also resulted in low literacy rate of 63.5 % compared to the male rate of 78.3 % . A study among university students from Ghana showed that the frequency of use of controlling behaviours and victimization/perpetration amongst men and women (e.g. control the other’s money) were similar, and controlling behaviours were seen to be associated with IPV . A recent study conducted in Ghana has suggested that women who reported physical, psychological and sexual violence were more likely to have suicidal thoughts, sleep deprivation and fear of partners or husbands .
Within this context, it is further relevant to understand the role of socio-demographics such as age, place of residence, marital status, education, occupational status and wealth in the dynamics of domestic physical violence against wives across the globe . We focus on Ghana because some previous studies have reported that less than 5 % of all women have reported being abused in one form or another . Despite this observation, there is a paucity of scholarly research on women’s approval of domestic physical violence against women by their husbands and or partners especially using data at the national level. The aim of this study is to investigate factors that influence women approval of domestic physical violence against women in Ghana using data from the 2003 to 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey.
The resource theory and the subculture-of-violence theory were used to explain intimate partner violence (IPV) and its approval [23–25]. Resource theory indicates that the availability of resources to both men and women, determines the nature and magnitude of violence among partners. Some researchers [23, 24] have argued that the imbalance in IPV among income groups occurs as a result of the fact that individuals with lower socio-economic status (i.e. income and social status) may have fewer legitimate resources to utilize to attain power. Some proponents of the resource theory have suggested that the availability of resources for women in particular, may to some extent alter the dependency relationship between men and women, and possibly lower men’s dominance over women in the domestic space. Applying the resource theory to women’s approval of domestic physical violence against women, we can argue that women’s financial independence and autonomy provides some form of protection against physical violence. The lack of such resources may not only make women vulnerable to IPV, but also to the approval of such violence act. Thus, lower levels of SES (i.e. income, education and occupation) may predispose women to accepting violence against women.
The subculture-of-violence theory developed by Wolfgang and Ferracuti  posits that the occurrence of violence is not evenly distributed among groups in the social structure; it is concentrated in poor urban areas. According to these theorists, since violence is known to occur frequently among a specific subset of the larger community, it is believed that, there is a value system at work in that subculture that makes violence more likely. According to Wolfgang and Ferracuti , “there is a potent theme of violence present in the cluster of values that make up the life-style, the socialization process, the interpersonal relationships of individuals living in similar conditions”(p. 140). This suggests that individuals found in that sub-culture learn the values and norms of violence through socialization and social control in their environment. In other words, violence is learned socially and passed on by group members, thus sustaining the subculture of violence. In applying the subculture-of-violence theory to this study, we hypothesized that certain subcultures of society, measured by the socio-demographic characteristics relate to justification of intimate partner violence, particularly physical domestic violence against wives.